The Riggs Blog

Berkshire Community Diaper Project

By Elizabeth Weinberg, MD

An invitation to the general public, clinicians, and researchers

Megan Smith, DrPH, to Speak at the Austen Riggs Center on “Diaper Need and its Impact on Families,” in Collaboration with the Berkshire Community Diaper Project

Megan V. Smith, DrPH, assistant professor of psychiatry, child study and public health at the Yale University School of Medicine, and principal investigator of the New Haven Mental Health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership, will be coming to the Austen Riggs Center on Saturday, September 6, 2014, to talk to an audience including clinicians, researchers and the general public about the importance of providing diapers to mothers.  

While we all know infants need diapers, the consequences of unmet diaper need are far-reaching.  In Dr. Smith’s research, published in Pediatrics in 2013, she conducted a cross-sectional survey of New Haven mothers and discovered that almost 30% reported diaper need.  Food stamps don’t pay for diapers, and since daycare centers require mothers to provide diapers, a mother without diapers may find herself without childcare.  Cloth diapers aren’t an option for families without washing machines, as laundromats can’t take them.  Given the expense and importance of disposable diapers, families with limited resources often stretch their diaper use, and infants stay in dirty diapers.  This, then, leads to diaper rashes, crying infants, and stressed mothers.  Given how much we now know about the importance of the early mother-child relationship to the physical, emotional and psychological development of children, making diapers freely available is one of the most simple and cost-effective interventions available to improve the mental and physical health of children and to support stressed families.  

Coinciding with Dr. Smith’s talk will be the kick-off of the Berkshire Community Diaper Project, a new collaboration between clinicians and local agencies to collect diapers and distribute them to families in our community.  Organized by Marie Rudden, MD, a training analyst at the Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute and Jane Tillman, PhD, director of the Erikson Institute at the Austen Riggs Center, this project attempts to address infant physical and mental health problems through meeting this basic early need of families of young children.  

Dr. Smith will be speaking at the Austen Riggs Center, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts from 9:30 to 11:00 am in the first floor conference room of the Medical Office Building.  CME/CE credits will be available.  Attendees are asked to make a donation of $25 worth of diapers, or to write a check for $25 to the Austen Riggs Center, earmarked for support of the Berkshire Community Diaper Project.  Participants will learn about the nature and magnitude of diaper need, the link between diaper need and the mental health of parents, and will learn about next steps to support existing diaper banks and develop new diaper banks in their communities.   The event is open to the public, but as space is limited, we ask you to register in advance by contacting Alicia Zaludova at [413] 931.5230.

 

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